9 stunning nature reserves in Somerset
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 February 2020
A guide to the most beautiful nature reserves across Somerset
Did you know Bridgwater Bay National Nature Reserve boasts many important elements? It is the largest area of saltmarsh in Somerset and part of the Severn Estuary, the estuary of the River Severn, the longest river in England. Plus, its mudflats, sand banks and saltmarshes are nationally and internationally important feeding and nesting sites for waterfowl and wading birds.
The Steart Marshes is a wild, wetland landscape for the future, which is fed by the River Parrett as it travels to Bridgwater Bay. Engagement Officer, Nicole Turnbull at Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) explains: "The wetland is working for people and wildlife. We are creating new saltmarsh and freshwater habitats and telling people about the value of wetlands."
Nestled on the Holnicote estate, Horner Wood is one of the biggest and most beautiful ancient oak woods in Britain. This magical National Nature Reserve is home to a huge range of wildlife, including insects, deer and stags. The Dunkery and Horner Wood Circular Walk is a great opportunity to get a sneak peek at the wildlife in their natural habitat.
RSPB Ham Wall has a truly rich landscape teeming with extraordinary wildlife, breath-taking views and landmark scenes. According to Beth Markey, Communications Officer at Ham Wall, the Reserve was designed to provide the best habitat possible for wetland species. She says: "There's nothing more magical than watching the sunrise over Glastonbury Tor as the wind blows through the reed beds."
Cheddar Gorge may be one of the most popular attractions in the Mendip Hills, but its 'mini me', Ebbor Gorge has remained a hidden gem. Perhaps the most unspoilt gorge in the Mendips, it is designated as a National Nature Reserve and managed by Natural England. It really is nature at its finest with its small streams, woodland, rocks and caves. For those who didn't know, Langford Heathfield is Somerset Wildlife Trust's second largest reserve. An astonishingly diverse ancient and secondary woodland it is paradise for a range of wildlife. As a result, it boasts a variety of fascinating residents throughout the year, including mistle thrush, nuthatches, long tailed tits, and green and greater spotted woodpeckers.
Tarr Steps boasts many significant qualities, including being famous for its clapper bridge, the longest and oldest of its kind in the UK and being one of the most important areas of ancient woodland. This picturesque National Nature Reserve is a peaceful part of the glory of Exmoor and part of the temperate rainforest of western Britain.
One of the largest lowland wetlands in the UK, Westhay Moor provides a habitat for rare wildlife and an exclusive insight into thousands of years of shifting landscape. It is designated as a National Nature Reserve, so visitors can experience diverse habitats and local landscape as it was when the first settlers, Neolithic farmers, made the marshes their home.
Green Down has a lot to be proud of. A site, which has never been used for intensive agriculture, shows to be one of the best examples of lias limestone downland and scrub in the county. Also, declared extinct in Britain in 1979, the large blue butterfly has since been reintroduced as part of a long-term conservation programme.
Somerset Wildlife Trust treasure Harridge Woods is a prime example on how to create a safe environment for wildlife. This National Nature Reserve boasts an award-winning bat house, restored from a tumble-down cottage, Keeper's Cottage and it is now the residence for at least seven different species of bats. u boasts many important elements? It is the largest area of saltmarsh in Somerset and part of the Severn Estuary, the estuary of the River Severn, the longest river in England. Plus, its mudflats, sand banks and saltmarshes are nationally and internationally important feeding and nesting sites for waterfowl and wading birds.